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Novak Djokovic claims majority of the players don't want to go ahead with the season if they have to do quarantine every tournament

Novak Djokovic reacts during his match against Alexander Zverev
Novak Djokovic reacts during his match against Alexander Zverev
Modified 16 Feb 2021

Novak Djokovic defeated Alexander Zverev on Tuesday to make it to his ninth Australian Open semifinal. The Serb won 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(6) in three and a half hours, but after the match he shot a warning to the ATP as well as the tournament organizers about the effect of quarantine on player health.

In particular, Novak Djokovic lashed out against the 14-day quarantine rule that the Australian Open mandated all players to go through this year. The World No. 1 believes that such a rule does no favors to the physical conditioning of the players, including Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini.

"The 14-day quarantine...People don’t realize, but I think the amount of injuries during this tournament shows how much effect it has on the players' bodies," Novak Djokovic said. "It's taken its toll unfortunately on all of us. What we see is not normal. Sascha, Dimitrov, Berrettini, Rafa... It has to do with the circumstances and the quarantine. For some it was tougher than me."

Novak Djokovic stressed that he wasn't complaining about the regulations but merely mentioning their adverse effects. In a more surprising revelation, the Serb stated that several players were skeptical about continuing the season with such strict quarantine rules in place.

"I can't complain but it has a physical impact on players," Djokovic added. "We are hoping that it's temporary. But majority of the players don't want to go ahead with the season if we have to do quarantines all the season. I'm waiting for some answers."

According to the 17-time Major champion, all the parties involved need to have an immediate discussion about the quarantine issue. Djokovic fears that the situation will be even worse once the tour moves to Europe, which is where the claycourt swing will take place.

"The situation is not good for the players in terms of well-being," the 33-year-old went on. "I heard a lot of complaints. I'm not pointing the finger on anyone. It's just reality. We have to talk about it. We have to discuss options. What we live here in Australia is better than in the rest of Europe in terms of quarantine. I don't know how we will handle that. But the physical condition of players is key. We have to address it quickly because the season has already started."

Aslan Karatsev doesn't have anything to lose: Novak Djokovic on semifinal matchup

Novak Djokovic will next face Aslan Karatsev
Novak Djokovic will next face Aslan Karatsev

Novak Djokovic will face rookie Aslan Karatsev in the semifinals on Thursday, and the difference in pedigree of the two players couldn't be any starker. On one hand, the Serb is on the cusp of his 18th Major title, while on the other, the Russian has played only 18 sets of Grand Slam tennis (main draw).

But Karatsev is in the form of his life, and Djokovic reckons the Russian will come out all guns blazing against him on Thursday.

"It's his first semi-final, it's a big success, he doesn't have anything to lose,” Djokovic said. “I'm expecting him to try to get that win.”

Novak Djokovic also added that he would be skipping training on Wednesday. But this is merely a precautionary measure, and the Serb assured everyone that his injury was on the mend.

“I've never experienced not to go to practice between two matches, and this kind of injury during a Grand Slam,” Djokovic continued. “The good point is that from the 2nd set I felt better than any situation since the 3rd vs Fritz when the injury happened."

Speaking about his racquet-smashing incident during the match, the Serb explained that it was important for him to vent his frustration at that point of time.

“I wouldn’t recommend this kind of relief channeling,” Novak Djokovic added. “I’m not proud of that but you go through a lot of different emotions, inner battles. Everyone is different; I have my own demons I have to fight with. Was a cumulation and I needed to let it go. Poor racquet."
Published 16 Feb 2021, 21:23 IST
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